All the opinion polls that you look at for the UK General Election in May show a hung Parliament as the most likely outcome. However, things are likely to crystallise a bit more over the next few weeks now that Parliament has been prorogued and the election officially called (although we’ve not had any doubt over the date this time).
If you read my previous series on the opinion polling for the Scottish Independence Referendum then you might be familiar with the graphs I produced. However that approach isn’t really helpful for the General Election. With the Independence Referendum there was a single binary question, and the aggregate national answer was what counted. So to predict the result you could simply track the polls and look at the trends. The 2015 General Election is a series of 650 first past the post elections with multiple parties in each seat. So the percentage shares of the vote don’t easily translate to a set number of seats.
The aftermath of the Independence Referendum in Scotland further complicates this further. All the UK parties tied themselves to the No campaign (because they were UK wide parties). That won, but 45% of the Scottish electorate wanted Independence. Not all of these 45% were normally SNP voters, and a fair number of them are likely to change how they vote in May. On top of this the Independence Referendum galvanised the Scots politically. The turnout was massive and the level of debate high. More people thought about what they wanted politically, and this too is likely to translate into changes in voting patterns in May.
So I am going to do something like my series on the Scottish Independence Referendum over the next few weeks, keeping it strictly factual and reporting the general view. What I will do differently is to use a seat calculator to turn the opinion poll headlines into results that might show what the shape of the new 2015 Parliament. Here’s a link to the one I’ll be using. http://may2015.com/category/seat-calculator/
Margins of error
I’ll just leave you with one more thing, there is a lot of room for conflicting results from polls. This piece from yesterday’s Guardian hits the nail on the head.
An interesting view looking at the probabilities of certain outcomes, currently it shows 31% chance of a Labour majority, 2% chance of no overall control and 67% of some sort of coalition government.